Official opening of new LNR Antrim base

Posted on Saturday Dec 14, 2013

Lough Neagh Rescue (LNR) marked the official opening of its new Antrim base on Saturday 14 December at the Lough Shore Park when invited guests, honorary dignitaries and crew members witnessed the cutting of the ribbon at the new station. The official launch was conducted by the Mayor of Antrim Councillor Roderick Swann and Janet Kidd, spouse of Martin Kidd (R.I.P), who along with a team of local volunteers have worked tirelessly to raise the funding and to prepare the site for its new role.
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The project is supported by the GROW South Antrim, which is providing £123,000 of funding through the EU’s Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme, administered by the Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD) and by Antrim Borough Council which has offered the site at a peppercorn rent along with three year’s financial assistance of £12,000 per year. The new rescue service will provide a Rapid Response Unit for the Antrim Bay area with additional supported from LNR’s 2 other inshore lifeboats swerving Lough Neagh.
On cutting the ribbon the Mayor of Antrim Councillor Roderick Swann said ‘Antrim Borough Council is delighted to be able to accommodate Lough Neagh Rescue at the Lough Shore Park. The new rescue service will help ensure that those using Lough Neagh and, especially Antrim Bay, have the reassurance of a fast response from Lough Neagh Rescue and its dedicated team of volunteers.’
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The Lough Neagh unit will now be fitted out over the next few months with rescue support equipment and a new 5.2m RIB rescue craft which will be specifically designed for the Antrim crew. Crews will be receiving in-house training to compliment what is already a first rate existing skill set available in the Antrim area. In line with LNR’s other 2 stations, the new Antrim unit will come under HM Coastguard’s ‘watch and pager’ system. The Antrim team will also meet the new 2013 International Boat Code requirements.
Antrim Borough Council has been key to the success of this project and Mr Paul Quinn, Chairperson of Lough Neagh Rescue commented that ‘without the support, patience and financial contribution from Antrim Borough Council we would not have been able to begin this journey which we have marked today in providing a local Rescue resource to the people of Antrim and the users of Lough Neagh. I wish to put on record my appreciation for the support given to the project by the Council elected representatives and its officers and look forward to working closely over the coming years in establishing permanent infrastructure for this new unit. We also appreciate the belief shown in this project by our main funders GROW and DARD who have enabled us to contribute to a safer and sustainable rural community. Without their contribution we could not have financed the development which will be in excess of £170,000. The people of Antrim also helped enormously by contributing over £20,000 to our collections over this past few years and to which we are most grateful.
He further said, “This is an exciting time for LNR as we go forward with these new teams and I would ask the people of Antrim to come forward as potential volunteers. We are currently recruiting new crew members and First Responders who, if selected, will undergo an initial professional training programme over the coming months. We are holding a public meeting on Tuesday 7th January at 7.30pm at the Lough Shore Park and any expressions of interest can be registered then’.
Lough Neagh Rescue intends also to develop its first new Flood and Swift water response team of volunteers who under the co-ordination of the PSNI will be prepared to support incidents off Lough Neagh for example in conditions of localised flooding and lakes/river rescues. This additional resource to LNR will supplement existing community and voluntary based organisations that currently provide First Response teams under Northern Ireland Search and Rescue.